Central Alabamians share their stories on abortion - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Central Alabamians share their stories on abortion

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

 

The state legislature is moving forward with four abortion bills. One prohibits the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected.  Another extends the waiting time before getting an abortion. A third requires a birth certificate to be shown,  before parents can approve a teen's abortion and a fourth requires patients to be told about perinatal hospice services. Many people have strong opinions on both sides of the emotional abortion debate.

We wanted to share local stories on both sides of this issue. The first two women we talked to have either had - or considered an abortion.  They say those decisions have been with them every day since.

Jacquie Stalnaker was about to be married - when she learned she was pregnant. 

"He wasn't happy," Jacquie Stalnaker said. "A couple of days later, he woke me up with a gun to the side of my ribs and said to me, 'one of you will die today. It's you or the child.'"

Jacquie's fiance took her - at gunpoint - to a clinic where a doctor quickly performed an abortion.

"I start feeling unbelievable amounts of pain I kept asking him to stop - my child is gone and I just felt every single second of it," she said.

She says damage to her body prevented her from having children - and led to cancer. Jacquie now tells her story around the U.S. And works with 'Silent No More' counseling women who have had abortions.

"I had to seek healing," Stalnaker said. "I had to have a voice for those who can't."

Becky McDonough's story started the same, but with a different ending.  She hoped for an abortion, but as a high school senior she couldn't afford one. She gave her daughter up for adoption.

"Every where I turned God was showing me what wonderful lives adopted children had," McDonough said. "I knew this was what God wanted me to do. Even though I knew that, it wasn't easy."

"When she was in college, one of those curiosity things, she filled out a profile, forgot she put it on there, then I came across it," McDonough said. "It's been great having her a part of my life."

Becky and her daughter have been re-united and spend time with each other. Becky works at Sav-A-Life in Bessemer counseling women who are going through the same thing she did. Jacquie is the regional coordinator for Silent No More. 15,000 people in 77 countries have been helped by the ministry.

We also spoke with people on the other side of this issue - groups that support pro-choice.

While they may be in the minority statewide, many are fighting for women's rights.

"Nobody is in favor of having an abortion," Amy Sedlis, a pro-choice advocate said. "It's a difficult decision. Pro choice people are not hanging out their signs saying to do this. There is a misconception about -especially in a conservative state- about what that means for people who are pro choice."

Amy Sedlis strongly disagrees with the new bills - in particular-  the one prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. 

"Everyone who has had a child goes in and experiences a sonogram and sees something, but why does that have to be the time you make this decision?" Sedlis said. "Until you face that situation - whether you're pro-choice or not, you don't know what you're going to do."

But she says - extending the waiting period from 24 to 48 hours before an abortion is a good idea - to give more time for counseling.

"You're in this crisis mode," she said. "If you're not married and don't have a friend or a therapist or someone you can call on - I think that's ideal."

"Women should be empowered," Sedlis said. "Feel armed with the knowledge and then make their own decision." 

Here are links for more information about the groups we spoke with: 

Silent No More:  http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/

Sav-A-Life Bessemer: http://www.savalifebessemer.org/

Sav-A-Life Birmingham: http://www.savalife.org/

 

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